Blogging as a Business

Blogging began as a way for individuals to review products, maintain a family newsletter and make their personal opinions known.  Today blogging has become a ‘cottage industry’ where individuals are attempting to generate a living or supplemental revenue stream simply by blogging.  This would be great if it were indeed possible to write enough of your own original content and generate enough traffic to your blog in order to convert readers into advertisement clickers.  Most of the time this is a pipe dream.

I’ve noticed a number of third-parties pitching the concept of blogging for profit in a number of ways.  Some of the those methods disclose that it takes a lot of persistent effort to actually make money while most others suggest that it’s easy.  It’s not easy and those that say it is are either misrepresenting the truth or flat out lying.

Why am I writing this article about blogging for business? Well, there is a huge difference between blogging, curating and stealing and most newby bloggers have no concept of where the line is drawn.  Intellectual Property (IP) law broadly defines the use of another parties IP into two main categories: Fair-Use and Commercial-Use. Take note I am not an attorney and this should not be construed as legal advice.

Fair-Use

“Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author’s work under a four-factor balancing test.” (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use)

Commercial-Use

In general, anything you publish (yes even to your blog) that is supported by advertising revenue or affiliate revenue sources are being used for commerical purposes adn thus probably qualify as Commercial-Use.

Attribution

Attribution does not protect you when you use another parties IP for commercial-use. Just because you tell your readers where you ‘stole’ something from does not protect you from being sued. Attribution is a step in the right direction but to truly provide protection you must get written approval from the content creator (IP owner).

The Problem

Many bloggers ignore copyright and do not provide attribution to the original source. Normally this would be seen as ‘fair-use’ under the law, however, most bloggers are using their blogs for commercial purposes via advertising or affiliate programs these activities turn fair-use into commercial use.

Conclusion

If you think it’s wrong, it probably is. Many of us have a gut -feeling when we do something that may be wrong or illegal. If you do not, perhaps you should seek the help of a Psychiatrist.

If you get the gut-feeling (or guilt-feeling) you should either re-write or remove the content that you posted or seek the advice of a qualified attorney.

Bear in mind that just because someone else is getting away with breaking the law doesn’t mean that you will get away with it.

Be cautious, respect ownership rights and remember if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

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